Messi fires Barcelona to Super Cup win

Argentine star strikes late volley to claim first silverware of Spanish season after another bad-tempered 'Clasico'.

    It was the first time Barcelona beat their rival Real Madrid on aggregate in the Spanish Super Cup [Reuters]

    Lionel Messi struck a late winner as Barcelona beat arch-rivals Real Madrid 3-2 in a fiery
    Spanish Super Cup second leg on Wednesday to secure a 5-4 aggregate victory.

    The Argentine world player of the year capped another outstanding performance, after scoring one and setting up another in the first leg, with an unstoppable volley for Barcelona to claim their first silverware of the season.

    The season curtain-raiser ended with a mass brawl that saw three players sent off as tempers boiled over after Barcelona debutant Cesc Fabregas was hacked down by Marcelo.

    The tackle earned a red card for the Brazilian defender, while his teammate Mesut Ozil and Barcelona's David Villa were also dismissed.

    Messi set up Andres Iniesta for the first goal in the 15th minute and, after Cristiano Ronaldo had quickly equalised, Messi scampered through to grab the second just before the break.
    Karim Benzema put Real level again with nine minutes remaining but the irrepressible Messi guided the European champions to victory with another piece of magic that had the crowd in raptures.

    "The players have made a super-human effort because we were missing some and those we had were far from their best form," said Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.

    Frightening pace
    The game was being played at a fast pace when Messi picked up the ball in midfield and played the darting Iniesta straight through the middle with a perfectly weighted pass.

    The Spanish midfielder dinked the ball past the advancing Iker Casillas to open the scoring, but Real quickly levelled when Barca struggled to clear a corner and Benzema's shot was diverted in by Ronaldo past Victor Valdes.

    Casillas and Valdes each pulled off impressive saves on two occasions but it was Messi again who proved the difference.

    When a corner was not properly cleared on the edge of the Real area, the Argentine chested the ball down to Gerard Pique who back-heeled a return pass for Messi to pick his way past two defenders and lift the ball over Casillas.

    The second half failed to live up to the first as petty niggles interrupted the flow of the game.

    Cesc Fabregras, the former Arsenal captain who signed for Barcelona for $29m on Monday, came on as an 82nd minute substitute after Benzema looked to have sent the tie into extra-time by levelling it at 2-2.

    But it was Messi who provided the final breakthrough, feeding Adriano Correia out wide and then connecting with his low cross to smash home the winner inside the near post.

    Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, who has now failed to win in eight visits to the Nou Camp, remained defiant, despite the defeat.

    "If we said we were happy when we hadn't won a title we would be hypocrites," said the Portuguese.

    But the game will be remembered for the mass brawl towards the end of the game.

    A bad tempered run of five 'Clasicos' last season has seen the heated rivalry between the clubs grew ever more acrimonious.
    Real defender Marcelo's lunging tackle on Fabregas in the final minute of the game had players and both benches jostling and arguing.

    War of words.

    In the post match news conference, Mourinho accused Barcelona players of going to ground easily.

    "Marcelo got a red card because we all know what happens after tackles in certain areas of the pitch," said Mourinho.

    Barcelona, who had never before beaten Real Madrid on aggregate in the Spanish Super Cup, started the match with the same lineup that defeated Manchester United in the Champions League final in May.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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